Mollusks in Peril Forum

May 22-24, 2016 the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island, Florida, hosted a 2.5 day forum titled Mollusks in Peril. We brought together some of the country’s foremost experts on current large-scale threats to molluscan populations to discuss, through presentations and panels, the challenges facing the second most diverse group of animals on earth.

As our planet is subjected to unprecedented rates of human-induced environmental change, populations of mollusks inhabiting a wide range of habitats are being exposed to exceptional amounts of ecological stress. These stressors include, but are not limited to, alterations caused by climate change and other large-scale environmental disturbances.

Mollusks in Peril provided a forum for discussion on the possible ecological drivers of extinction risk, the synergies that enhance ecological stress, and the taxonomy, ontogeny, and geography of change in and risk to marine, freshwater, and terrestrial mollusks.

View the Mollusks in Peril Program Here

Get acquainted with the 2016 Mollusks in Peril speakers below.

Arthur E. Bogan, Ph.D., F.L.S.

Research Curator of Aquatic Invertebrates

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

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Dr. Bogan is a malacologist specializing in freshwater mussel taxonomy, distribution, conservation and evolution. He earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology with a specialty in Zooarchaeology, an interdisciplinary program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the author /co-author of 178 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and 7 books. He has collaborated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), assessing the freshwater mollusk fauna of the Indo-Burma area. Dr. Bogan is an Adjunct Full Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Dr. Bogan has been a member of the Species Survival Committee (SSC)/Mollusk Specialists Group of the IUCN and is very interested in the conservation status and endangered species of freshwater mollusks and endangered species.

Emily Carrington, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology

Friday Harbor Laboratories

University of Washington

Friday Harbor, Washington, USA

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Dr. Carrington's research is based at the Friday Harbor Laboratories in the San Juan Islands, where she leads a marine biomechanics research group. For over two decades, she has focused on the mechanical design of marine invertebrates and macroalgae, especially those that thrive in one of the most physically challenging habitats on earth, the wave-swept rocky intertidal zone. She draws upon the fields of engineering, biology and environmental science to develop mechanistic understanding of how coastal organisms will fare in changing ocean climates. She is currently serving as a Program Director in the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems at the National Science Foundation in Arlington Virginia.

Robert H. Cowie, Ph.D.

Research Professor

Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

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Dr. Cowie, a Research Professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, has a M.A. in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the Liverpool University. He was a postdoc and then Honorary Research Fellow with University College London, and, following a period working on termites, for many years was the malacology curator and a research biologist with the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Dr. Cowie has received many grants and awards from national and international organizations, including several National Science Foundation grants. The over-arching theme of Dr. Cowie’s research is to understand the sources and determinants of non-marine molluscan diversity, both native and invasive, primarily in the Pacific. He is particularly interested in understanding the origins, spread and impacts of alien snails.

C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D.

Coral Reef Watch Coordinator

Center for Satellite Applications and Research

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

College Park, Maryland, USA

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A coral reef specialist with a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Miami, Dr. Eakin is Coordinator of NOAA's Coral Reef Watch program, which uses NOAA satellite and climate model data to monitor and predict environmental conditions that lead to coral bleaching. Dr. Eakin has held several positions with NOAA in the past, including Director of the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology and Program Officer with the Marine Ecosystem Response and Paleoclimatology Programs. He has co-chaired the US Coral Reef Task Force's Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Working Groups and chaired the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. Dr. Eakin has published on various topics in coral reef ecology, especially the impact of climate change and other disturbances on coral reefs and was a contributing author to the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate change and ocean acidification are among the biggest threats to coral reefs and threaten mollusks as well. Dr. Eakin’s participation in the Scientific Advisory Committee for Mollusks in Peril provides a connection with coral reef ecology, given the importance of healthy coral reefs for the well-being of reef mollusks.

Kenneth A. Hayes, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Biology

Howard University

Washington, DC, USA

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Dr. Hayes received his Ph.D. in Zoology with a specialization in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology from the University of Hawaii. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Howard University where his research focuses on understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that generate, maintain, and in some instances reduce biodiversity. The ultimate goal of his work is to use this knowledge to help conserve biodiversity in the face of major threats (e.g. habitat destruction, invasive species and climate change). Invertebrates, particularly mollusks, make great study systems to address a wide spectrum of questions at the interface of ecology, evolution and conservation, and much of Dr. Hayes' work takes an integrative approach to address such questions. Dr. Hayes will be speaking about threats to and extinction of insular land snails with a focus on role of habitat destruction, climate change, and the interactions of invasive species with native snails in the Hawaiian Islands.

Charles Lydeard, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences

Western Illinois University

Macomb, Illinois, USA

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Dr. Lydeard’s research interests are focused on the systematics and conservation of freshwater mollusks. He received his Ph.D. from Auburn University and, before joining the faculty at WIU, where he is now chair of the Biological Sciences Department, was a professor at the University of Alabama and Program Director with the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. He has been particularly interested in delimiting species boundaries of imperiled freshwater mollusks using molecular techniques. He is now beginning to explore the biological diversity of freshwater mollusks of the upper Mississippi River basin and terrestrial gastropods of Illinois, and the major conservation issues faced by these animals.

Brad Seibel, Ph.D.

Professor of Biological Oceanography

College of Marine Sciences

University of South Florida

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

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Dr. Seibel's research is focused on the physiological response of marine animals to extreme environments, ocean acidification, deoxygenation and warming, polar and deep-sea biology, biology of mollusksHe employs a unique suite of field and laboratory techniques and approaches to assess the ecological consequences of climate change, including ocean acidification, deoxygenation and warming, and the role of animal energetics in ecosystem dynamics. I carry out broad comparative physiology studies to determine the limits to evolution and ecology. Physiological mechanism provides a foundation upon which ecosystem responses to climate change and consequences for biogeochemical cycles can be understood. My studies compare organisms across size, depth, latitudinal and phylogenetic lines, from microzooplankton to macronekton, ctenophores to fishes, from the poles to the equator and from the abyssal plains to the ocean surface. We strive to integrate across levels of organization, from mitochondria to ecosystems. I focus on the physiology of individual species and what this can teach us about their origin, behavior, ecology, diversity and the ecosystems in which they live.

Julia Sigwart, Ph.D.

Associate Professor & Associate Director

Marine Laboratory

Queen's University

Belfast, Ireland

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Dr. Sigwart is an evolutionary biologist who studies the evolution and diversification of mollusks and other marine invertebrates. She is the Associate Director of Queen’s University Marine Laboratory, an interdisciplinary research institute in Portaferry, Northern Ireland. She is presently based in the University of California, Berkeley, on a sabbatical funded by a research excellence award from the European Commission. Dr Sigwart completed her PhD in 2008, working on deep-sea chitons, and spent most of her career in a museum setting, having previously worked in the American Museum of Natural History, New York, and the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. One aspect of her research focuses on the specialist adaptations that enable molluscs to exploit extreme environments, and adapt to environmental change. Using an integrative approach, Dr Sigwart’s research group investigates the diversity and diversification of species, in present environments and the fossil record. In the Forum, she will present her research on current threats to deep-sea populations of mollusks.

George Waldbusser, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

Oregon State University

Corvallis, Oregon, USA

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Dr. George Waldbusser received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland examining organismal impacts on porewater transport and biogeochemistry. Near the end of his Ph.D. studies, Dr. Waldbusser secured funding to work as an independent post-doctoral researcher and began his work on ocean acidification in 2006 prior to completing his Ph.D. in 2008. Dr. Waldbusser arrived at Oregon State University in 2009, and began building a research program around the effects of ocean acidification across multiple life-stages of marine bivalve mollusks. Throughout his career he has worked on fundamental science questions while maintaining a strong interest in informing policy makers and the public. Dr. Waldbusser has authored 30 publications, has an extensive record of student advising, developed two new courses at OSU, and serves in an associate editor at the Journal of Shellfish Research and Limnology and Oceanography.

Meredith White, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor

Earth and Oceanographic Science

Bowdoin College

Brunswick, Maine, USA

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Dr. White received her bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from Lafayette College in 2006. She went on to pursue a PhD in Biological Oceanography in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, where she was co-advised by Lauren Mullineaux and Dan McCorkle. Her thesis focused on the effects of ocean acidification on bay scallop larval development. She worked as a postdoc at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science in Maine in the laboratory of Barney Balch, investigating the effects of ocean acidification on coccolithophore-copepod interactions. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of Earth and Oceanographic Science at Bowdoin College in Maine. Dr. White served as Chair of the ‘State of the Science’ Subcommittee of the Maine Ocean Acidification Commission in 2014.

Norine W. Yeung, Ph.D.

Malacology Researcher

Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

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Norine Yeung received her PhD from the University of Hawaii in 2010, working on the systematics, population genetics, ecology and conservation of seabirds. As a Ph.D. student she was a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow, a program the pairs graduate level researchers with K-12 educators to help develop hands on, active learning science curriculum based in real world research activities. During her scientific career, Dr. Yeung participated in and developed a variety of outreach programs aimed at bringing wider conscientiousness of conservation issues to the general public. Many of these programs focused on developing hands-on, active learning science curriculum and activities that were based on current research. She has extensive malacological research experience in Hawaii, focusing on Hawaiian land snail (native and invasive) systematics and ecology. As an educator of science, policy and management, she is interested in integrating research and education in novel approaches. Doing so bridges the gap between science and public outreach and focuses on and efficiently serve contemporary conservation issues.